Town to seek federal, provincial grant to complete $35m Alder Rec Centre project

November 1, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Baker

A proposed $35 million renovation of the Alder Recreation Centre is at the forefront of a joint federal and provincial grant application the Town of Orangeville is submitting through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP).

Discussed in what was a ten-minute meeting of Council on Monday, the Town has dedicated $50,000 to obtain the necessary consulting and contract services required to prepare a detailed application through the ICIP initiative, which could potentially see renovations carried out at Alder.

Announced earlier this year, the ICIP is a federal initiative designated to create long-term economic growth, help to build inclusive, sustainable and resilient communities, and support a low-carbon economy. 

Through the ICIP, the federal government is providing $11.8 billion in federal infrastructure funding to cost-share projects under four streams – public transit, green infrastructure, community, culture and recreation and rural and northern communities. The Town would be applying under the community, culture and recreation portion of the grant. 

In his note to Council, Ray Osmond, the Town’s General Manager of Community Services, noted the creation of the ICIP may help the Town address some soon-to-be issues, as well as drastically improving recreational services in the community without property taxpayers bearing the brunt of the cost.

“The announcement of the ICIP creates an opportunity to leverage the Town’s scarce financial resources to not only address aging infrastructure, equipment and operational issues, but to create short- and long-term efficiencies,” Mr. Osmond stated. “The Town has an opportunity to enhance its recreation and leisure facility footprint, and grow and enhance programs and services for all ages.”

Specifically earmarked in the $35 million project is the construction of a third, 35,000 sq. ft. double ice pad, which Mr. Osmond states will help to accommodate recreational hockey, minor boys and girls hockey, skate training and leisure activities; expand the existing six lane swimming pool to eight lanes; replace the pool liner in the leisure pool; remove the existing wet slide at the pool to accommodate the installation of an indoor spray pad and water play structure; and pave the way for various mechanical upgrades and aquatic accessory purchases.

Also outlined in the plan is a proposed renovation, rehabilitation and upgrade of the existing refrigeration system at Alder, with a view to installing new technology designed to recycle 100 percent of the energy used to maintain the ice surfaces back into the building’s heating and air conditioning systems. This proposal will also include providing heat transfer to the pool water, hot water for showers, underfloor heating, ice resurfacing water, and snow melting technology. 

The application also includes plans to repurpose and upgrade the existing public library space at the facility; upgrade the multi-purpose room space currently used by Humber College; and potentially expand and/or resurface the current parking lot, which could include construction of a new parking space on the eastern side of the building. 

While both the federal and provincial governments would cover the bulk of the cost of this project through the ICIP initiative, $14 million (federal) and $11.6 million (provincial) respectively, the Town would still be expected to chip in $9.3 million. Mr. Osmond noted that, while the all ICIP applications are due by Nov. 12 of this year, municipalities would have until March 2027 to complete the projects. 

“The upgrades presented are intended to enhance our existing leisure components to not only ensure our residents continue to benefit from healthy activities, but to also capitalize on an opportunity to access shared funding that will minimize the short- and long-term financial impact on the Town,” Mr. Osmond added.

While Council, in general, appeared to support the plan, and actually approved the $50,000 expenditure required to complete the application, Coun. Grant Peters voiced his concerns over grouping renovations to one of the Town’s two libraries in with the plan to improve its main recreational hub.

“This is a fantastic initiative, and I think we definitely need to pursue the grant, as there are a lot of interesting things we can get out of it. One piece I’m not entirely comfortable with are the potential changes to library services,” Mr. Peters stated. “I would rather see those removed from this grant and have us focus on the recreational aspect. It’s my opinion that, while we figure out the other aspects the library may need to consider that have larger implications, we hold off on that piece.”

Mayor Sandy Brown, who was once in favour of closing the Alder branch of the Orangeville library, informed Coun. Peters that, since projects don’t have to be completed until 2027, he didn’t feel there was any harm in including the library component in this application.

“I thought we were going to ask for a bigger and grander library at Alder as part of this project,” the mayor remarked. “I thought everybody was interested in that potential.”

Coun. Peters retorted, “I agree that we should be applying for as much as is potentially available to us, for as much as we’d like to do. What I’d hate to see is for us to go through the application process for a larger project, decide to trim back for whatever reason, then have the grant removed because we didn’t mean the expectations. I believe the project we come in with (should be) the project we intend to build.”

While it wasn’t discussed by Council, included in Mr. Osmond’s report were figures the Town will be required to invest in some of its recreational facilities over the next two or three years, which amount to more than $10 million. He notes that $2.7 million is needed to upgrade Tony Rose Arena, $2.5 million to complete the elevator design and installation at the Mill St. Library, and almost $5 million for various projects at the Alder Recreation Centre.

The Town is currently in the process of completing a ten-year parks and recreation master plan, which Mr. Osmond states will provide more specific project recommendations for Council. The much-anticipated plan will be completed and presented to Council in early 2020.

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